Friday, August 29, 2014

Fashion Challenge 2: Contestants Have Been Selected!!

Our 8 contestants have been selected! Wow we had a great response from some talented sewers, I just wish I could have chosen them all! We will begin the Fabricista Fashion Challenge on Friday, September 5th. On that day, all contestants will have the first challenge in their inboxes and it will also be posted on the blog! 

I know some of you out there love a challenge, but maybe you thought the Fashion Challenge wouldn't fit into your busy life or maybe you felt you weren't "good enough". I'm giving all of our viewers a chance to participate with the contestants! Although you will not be in the main competition, you can post photos of your projects on our Flickr page.

So let's find out who has been chosen for the Fabricista Fashion Challenge 2! (In alphabetical order.)

I'm really excited to see what these ladies can do! I have some fun challenges planned for everyone. Get those sewing machines ready and your creative ideas flowing! See you on September 5th!

Friday, August 15, 2014

In the Studio with Tasia from Sewaholic Patterns

This is the last of our interviews in the In the Studio series now that we will be starting the Fabricista Fashion Challenge next month! Learn more about that HERE. This week's interview is Tasia from Sewaholic Patterns. Well known for her sewing patterns and the sew-alongs to go with them! Enjoy learning a little more about Tasia!

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Tasia, I love to sew and make things. I also love knitting and recently got into quilting, too! I live in beautiful Vancouver, BC Canada and when I’m not working or sewing, I enjoy hiking, cycling, and getting outdoors!

What is a typical work day like?
I get up early and cycle to work, it’s a beautiful half-hour bike ride to the office! I work in a shared office space so there are accountants, lawyers and counselors working in offices next to me. I’m definitely the most colourful and messy office of them all! It’s nice because I work by myself, but am not completely alone. When I arrive, I check my computer and respond to blog comments and emails. Lately I’ve started to divide my day in half: computer work in the morning, sewing in the afternoon. It’s great motivation to finish the computer tasks so I can get to the sewing part! I’m usually sewing up new samples, working out the construction steps of a new pattern or making garments for upcoming photo shoots. Some days I work late, in which case I’ll get something to eat for dinner, take a quick break and get back to it! Otherwise I’ll pedal home for dinner and go to a yoga class after that.

What made you want to be a pattern designer?
I’ve always loved sewing, and I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of pattern design. I like figuring out construction methods that give good results and are straightforward to sew. When I was laid off from my fashion industry job, I thought it would be a good time to try starting my own company. That was in 2010 and it’s been a good decision so far!

Did you go to school for fashion? If so, where? If not, how did you get into what you’re doing?
Yes, I did! I completed a four-year degree from Kwantlen University College (now Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and worked in the apparel industry for eight years after graduation. It’s been great to have training and industry experience as the methods used in manufacturing are different from home sewing!

What inspires the patterns you make?
Everything! I like solving a problem with my designs, like the Renfrew which is a knit top pattern that’s designed for people who dislike sewing knits. Usually there’s a story with each of my designs, like the Pendrell Blouse is designed to make delicate, slippery fabric easier to work with since the binding method is easy to sew and the draped and ruffled sleeves are cut on the fold so there’s no hemming required. The Thurlow Trousers feature an adjustable centre back seam so you can easily alter your pants if needed. I design patterns for a pear-shaped figure, so the proportions fit a smaller bust and waist with wider hips. No one was doing that at the time and I thought why not design for the body shape I know best?

Who is your favorite fashion designer?
I don’t really have a favourite designer!

What is the best thing about what you do? The hardest thing?
The best thing is seeing the reaction to a new pattern, and seeing people make up projects with my patterns! It’s easy to fall in love with your own work but it’s even better when others like it too. There are many hard things about designing patterns and running your own business. It’s a challenge keeping yourself focused on doing the hard tasks when it’s more fun to design and sew. It’s easy to worry too much about whether your designs are any good or if your business is going to make it. And like other business owners, it’s hard to keep a balance between work and the rest of your life. When you love what you do, you want to do it all the time!

Out of all the sewing patterns you created, which is your favorite?
Ooh, good question! My favourite so far is the Cambie Dress. I’ve seen people sew it for bridesmaid dresses and even wedding dresses, which is incredibly exciting! I like that it works for formal wear as well as picnics and weekends. Everyone who’s made it looks amazing in it.
Do you have a favorite pattern designer, (other than yourself!)?
Another good question! I really admire Colette Patterns as a business, it’s so encouraging to see how much it’s grown since I started blogging. Lingerie sewing is a new interest of mine, and I like the designs from Merckwaerdigh, a Dutch pattern company. Sadly I don’t have as much time to sew for pleasure as I’d like, but I’d love to sew some Thread Theory menswear patterns for Mr. Sewaholic! I think they’ve done a great job of making menswear patterns that are attractive and modern.

What is your favorite fabric type?
Natural fibers for sure: cotton, wool, rayon. I’m working with wool today as I answer these questions and I just love the smell of freshly pressed wool! I love cotton shirtings, lawns, and voiles; there’s something so nice about working with fabric that presses easily and crisply. Synthetics do have their place as well, you can’t beat wrinkle-resistant polyester for easy packable travel clothing.

Yaletown Dress and Blouse

What is your favorite sewing tool?
My seam ripper? Maybe my rotary cutter. I started using fabric glue stick for a couple of projects and while it feels like cheating, it is very useful! Along the same lines, I started using self-threading needles and like the extra help they provide.

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all?
For instant getaways I go to my hammock! I’ve always wanted a hammock and finally got one this year for the balcony. Five minutes of lounging in the hammock and I’m way less worried about my work to-do list and those dishes in the sink.  I like visiting Vancouver Island for short trips. Taking the ferry to the island makes it feel like a real getaway!

What is your favorite food?
Fresh summer fruit like blueberries and cherries. We’re right in the middle of fruit season right now and I am loving it.

Rae Skirt
What is the most common fabric/sewing-related question people ask you?
I’d say the most common question is either ‘Will you teach me to sew?’ or ‘Will you hem my pants?’ Those are from people who don’t know me, usually! The other most common thing people say is to talk about their last sewing experience. Usually it’s a happy story of learning to sew with an aunt or grandmother, or a sad story of how they never got the hang of it back in high school. I like those stories, either way I try to convince them that they can always learn again now!

What is one fashion trend you love? Hate?
Love: I love that wide-legged pants are making a comeback! Full skirts and longer skirts, too.
Hate: Overalls. Can’t go there! They work on the right person I suppose, but they don’t do anything for me. No overall patterns coming up from me!

Thurlow Trousers and Shorts
Are you working on any new patterns? Can you give us any behind-the-scenes info?
Always! Depending on when this goes live, we have two new designs coming in July! One is excellent for brand-new beginners. We’re also already working on patterns after that, one that will challenge your sewing skills and one that is already my new wardrobe favourite.

Thanks to Tasia for taking time out of her busy day to answer these questions! If you'd like to check out the entire Sewaholic Pattern line, CLICK HERE. Watch for a post early next week featuring my review of a few Sewaholic Patterns.

I'd love to hear how reader's liked the In the Studio series of interviews and pattern reviews. Was it helpful? Did you find out about pattern companies you never heard of? Let me know what you thought!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fabricista Fashion Challenge II: Call for Entries

UPDATE: Call for Entries is closed!

Call for entries! We're looking for 8 eager sewing bloggers to participate in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge II! Learn all the details about the challenge HERE.

Do you think you have what it takes to participate in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge II? If you answered yes,email us your submission! Here's what we need from you:

- A link to your blog's homepage
- 3 images of your best work
- A paragraph telling us why you think you would be a great candidate for the challenge.

All challenges will be based on sewing for yourself, so keep that in mind when entering. Sorry, previous contestants from the first challenge will not be considered. While we would love you to participate, we would like to give other fabulous sewists a chance too! Open to citizens of the US and Canada. Entries are due by Tuesday, August 26th!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Made by a Fabricistia: Stratchcona Henley from Thread Theory Designs

Confession: I’m a bit of a selfish seamstress.  I occasionally dabble in minor alterations for others but a majority of my sewing is women’s wear with me in mind.  Head down, stereo up and the faint hum of my sewing machine helps to drown out the sounds of my husband standing in the doorway in his holey t-shirt asking when he’s going to see some action on that quilt he’s been wanting for years.  So when Julie asked me to take part in the “In the Studio” series I was happy to oblige as I was excited to see Fabric Mart stocked patterns by Thread Theory Designs, a menswear pattern company. 
My husband is pretty particular about his clothes so I knew I needed to keep it simple.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time invested in something that might not work for him.   The Stratchcona Henley is a modern t-shirt pattern with a crew neck or Henley style button placket options.  I stuck to the crew neck t-shirt style for my first try at the pattern.  The sizing ranges from XS-XL and note the style is slim fitting.  Eeeek! Slim fit is not hubby’s style at all.  When tracing out the XL I added about an inch to the side seams to hopefully accommodate for this.   I also shortened the sleeve length and hem length 3 inches. 
One thing I found odd when cutting out the pattern was with the neckband.  The pattern and cutting layout has you cutting the neckband along the lengthwise grain for all knits and on the crosswise grain for a 4 way stretch knit.  My fabric, a medium weight interlock from Joann Fabric, had a two way stretch with the most stretch being on the crosswise grain.  There was little stretch to the lengthwise grain but I cut per instructions just to see if I could get it to work.  Like I thought without the right amount of stretch it was near impossible for me to fit to the neckline.  I went back and re-cut on the crosswise grain.  I’m not sure why the two different directional cutting layouts are there but this is something you’ll want to consider when making your own.  I always cut my neckband in same direction as the stretch of the fabric.

Construction was a breeze when completed on my serger.  When joining the shoulder seams the pattern gives 3 different options to stabilize the seam so it’s not stretched when worn.  I chose to stabilize mine with clear elastic since I’ve acquired quite a bit of it in my stash from making swimwear.  Other noted options are twill tape, cutting 1/4 selvages from self fabric or cotton scraps and using fusible interfacing.  To apply the elastic I first marked my seam allowance with chalk then pinned the elastic slightly overlapping the seam line.  When serging I made sure my needle went through my elastic and also made sure my blade was not cutting through end of the elastic.

My sleeves and hems are finished by first serging the ends then folding under 5/8 inch and top-stitching with a twin needle.  This gives it that coverstitch finish. 

Unfortunately this shirt didn't work for my husband.  Bummer right!?  I think the problem is a mixture of the slim fitted style and fabric choice.  The interlock knit was a little too clingy and soft for his liking.  I think with a few fitting modifications and a light weight jersey this could be the perfect shirt for my husband.  In the meantime my dad modeled the shirt for me. 

I always feel bad when a project doesn't work out in my favor.  But sometimes sewing is no fun without a challenge.  The challenge comes in making it better than before and learning from your mistakes.  I’m determined more than ever now to make my husband a t-shirt he loves. 

Have you sewn for the man in your life?  What's your favorite menswear pattern?  

~Shannon from Shanni Loves

Friday, August 8, 2014

In the Studio with Morgan from Thread Theory Designs

There are a lot of patterns out there. From your basic pant, to a intricate evening gown, you can find a pattern for almost anything. But the market lacks one's sewing patterns. I feel bad for men that may like to sew or for women that want to make handmade clothing for the men in their lives. There is a shortage of this in the sewing world and that is one of the many reasons why Thread Theory Designs was created! Morgan graciously accepted my request to interview her for the blog. Enjoy learning a little bit about this flourishing business!

Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m delighted to be interviewed for the Fabric Mart blog!  My name is Morgan and I am one half of the Thread Theory Designs team.  I work with my husband Matt to create menswear sewing patterns. We began Thread Theory because we wanted to give sewers access to modern and stylish sewing patterns so they could create menswear garments equivalent (or superior!) in style, fit, and quality to those found in their favorite ready-to-wear stores. We currently have five patterns available in both print and PDF and one free PDF pattern on our website.  We also stock kits and high quality sewing supplies, all with an understated masculine appearance – you won’t find pink pincushions in our store!

What is a typical work day like?
I’m very lucky in that a typical work day for me involves getting out of bed and heading to the Thread Theory ‘studio’ right down the hall in my own home!  I’m currently working full time on Thread Theory while Matt works full time elsewhere and fits in Thread Theory tasks after work.  Most of my days are divided between working on the computer (writing our blog, creating pattern instruction booklets, providing customer service, and creating sew-alongs and tutorials) and working in the sewing room where I design garments and sew sample after sample.  We have our patterns drafted by Sabine, a very talented pattern maker who runs the company Suncoast Custom  I hope to add a bit of teaching to my routine and will make a start at this later in the summer.  I’m looking forward to helping out at some Comox Trunk sewing workshops at The Makehouse in Victoria, British Colombia and will be teaching a Comox Trunks class at a new sewing convention called CREATE later in the fall.

What made you want to be a pattern designer?
While I have always loved creative pursuits and have enjoyed sewing as a hobby since I was a teenager, I didn’t consider sewing as a career until I finished my Bachelor of Arts degree and found myself unsure of what direction I wanted to go in next.  With the end of this stint of education and a period of working rather uninspiring jobs, the one ever-growing constant in my life became my love of sewing!  Around this same time I began to notice more and more indie-pattern companies emerging.  I longingly thought of starting an indie pattern company as being my dream job but dismissed it as unrealistic because it didn’t match my education or all my life goals up until that point.  One day I realized, why should the past determine what I did with my future?  And Matt and I also knew that if we were to fill the menswear niche (which was shockingly empty) we had to do it before anyone else did!  So, during a road trip across Canada we discussed all the exciting details of starting our company and dove in!

Stratchcona Henley 
Did you go to school for fashion? If so, where? If not, how did you get into what you’re doing?
To prepare myself to start Thread Theory, I attended a year of a Fashion Design Program at the Pacific Design Academy in Victoria, British Columbia.  I was lucky that class sizes were very small and so I was able to cater my learning experience towards my goal of beginning Thread Theory.  All my teachers were very helpful and by the end of the year I had developed the confidence and also the contacts and business plan needed to start our business.

What inspires the patterns you make?
My main inspiration for our menswear patterns comes from the beautiful parks and landscapes we have in British Columbia.  So far we have divided our patterns into two collections: The Parkland Collection and The Alpine Collection.  Our Parkland patterns are slim fitting casual designs that are perfect for an active but relaxed lifestyle – you could wear them strolling through the woods but would also look stylish and trendy enough for coffee downtown.  Our Alpine Collection consists of more purpose-built garments for rugged activity.  They have more of a relaxed, classic fit than our Parkland Collection and are perfect for hiking up mountains or getting dirty in the workshop or garden.  We’ve started from the base layer (trunks and an undershirt) and are working our way to the outer shell with this collection – we’re really excited about the next couple patterns that we have in the works for it!

Who is your favorite fashion designer?
I am very inspired by the designers behind Wings & Horns, a Vancouver-based clothing company.  I also love Filson.  I don’t follow runway fashion closely but used to love anything produced by Alexander McQueen and I enjoy Vivienne Westwood’s menswear designs.  I must say, the fashion designers that I follow the closest are my fellow indie pattern company designers!  I am always very inspired by Katie of Papercut Patterns and Tasia of Sewaholic

What is the best thing about what you do? The hardest thing?
My very favorite part of running Thread Theory is seeing the garments that people have made using our patterns and hearing the stories behind their styling choices and sewing experience.  For instance, when we held the Comox Trunks Sew-along several months ago, I felt so lucky to be met with a very inspiring flood of Comox Trunks pictures.  Hearing about the laughs had during photo shoots, about husband and wife fabric shopping expeditions, and about sewing learning experiences from all around the world is amazing.  Despite living in a small community with few local sewers, I feel very connected with a huge network of amazing people through Thread Theory!

I would say the hardest part of running my own business is turning off the computer and living life at the end of the day.  I constantly have to remind myself that my deadlines and my goals are self-imposed and can be adjusted without resulting in a world-wide catastrophe.  I am a very tough boss to work under as I am always expecting way too much from myself and can simply only get so much done in a day!

Comox Trunks

Out of all the sewing patterns you created, which is your favorite?
My very favorite of our patterns is the Jedediah Pants.  This is because I put a lot of effort into the finishing details for these trousers – the instruction booklet teaches you how to create French seamed front pockets, how to flat fell the inseams and how to apply bias binding to create a high end pair of pants!  We also have a sew-along for these pants complete with a video to show you how to sew the fly!

Jedediah Pants and Shorts
Do you have a favorite pattern designer, (other than yourself!)?
My favorite pattern designer is Tasia of Sewaholic.  She happens to run her business out of Vancouver which is only a short ferry ride away from me!  Her instructions are always so clear and thoughtful but are brief and thus easy to use at the same time.  I really like this happy medium she has achieved because I can use the instructions as an advanced sewer without skipping over piles of text but beginner sewers will find they have all the information they need.  Her designs and patterns themselves are excellent as well, while her blog and her new book are great resources that every sewer should be aware of.  And, to top it off, she runs her business so professionally and successfully! 

What is your favorite fabric type?
I really enjoy working with natural fibers such as linen and wool.  I love top-stitching and ironing seams crisply, so these sorts of wovens really work well with my favorite sewing projects.  Lately I have been sewing with and wearing a lot of knits and have found I enjoy wearing knits with a bamboo content the most (as they are often quite lustrous and drape nicely).  So I guess I have two sorts of favorite fabrics – my sewing favorites and my wearing favorites!

Stratchcona Henley

What is your favorite sewing tool?
My favorite tool is most certainly my industrial sewing machine.  I love the simplicity of the machine – there is no fiddling with buttons and feet, I can just flip a switch and get straight to sewing!  On a smaller scale, I really love my Merchant & Mills glass head pins (which we happen to stock in our shop! Click on their name to be directed to our site.) They are really sharp and won’t melt under an iron – which is perfect for me as I am constantly forgetting to remove pins!

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all?
Matt and I love camping as a way to get away from everything.  We have the perfect little tent that takes us just a couple minutes to set up.  We enjoy hiking, foraging for edible plants (our latest past time…not one we are very successful at yet!), and cooking dinner over the camp fire.  When we don’t have time to get away overnight our favorite way to relax is to have a pizza night!  We make the dough ourselves and experiment with the wildest of pizza toppings – our latest included grapes (delicious!).

What is your favorite food?
Oops, I think I just answered that question!  My favorite food is homemade pizza – both due to the taste and due to the fun time we have making it together.

What is the most common fabric/sewing-related question people ask you?
I get a lot of emails and blog comments asking where to source menswear fabrics.  Of course, a good option would be Fabric Mart!  Sewers are always on the lookout for manly knits for our Newcastle Cardigan and Strathcona Henley patterns.  Aside from this, I also receive many emails with photos of mock-ups and enjoy providing fitting suggestions.

What is one fashion trend you love? Hate?
I really love the menswear trend towards more flamboyant prints on t-shirts.  I think small scale floral t-shirts can look really nice and would love to be able to convince Matt the same (I’m getting close!).  As much as I really like interesting socks and appreciate the overly fitted suit trend with extra short pants, I don’t think it is a very wearable trend for many body types and hope that more relaxed fitting trousers and suits come back in style soon to give the majority of men a chance to be stylish!

Are you working on any new patterns? Can you give us any behind-the-scenes info?
Yes!!! We always have a new pattern or two in the works.  Currently we are working on four different patterns – two of which will be added to our Alpine Collection this Fall and two of which are a complete surprise…I can’t even give any hints yet but you will be able to find out more soon through our blog and newsletter. 

**One of these have come out since I interviewed Morgan--- The Finlayson Sweater! 

Finlayson Sweater

Thank you Morgan for taking time to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Thread Theory Designs! Stay tuned, because one of our Fabricista's, Shannon from Shanni Loves, will be sharing with us a completed Stratchcona Henley she made for her husband!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Made by a Fabricista: Valentine Slip by Sew Chic Patterns

It has been a few weeks since I blogged last and I feel so bad! I have been quite busy at work and in my personal life, that blogging had to be put on hold for a little while. If you read my last post, featuring an interview with Laura Nash from Sew Chic Patterns, I mentioned that I would be making the Valentine Slip. I also mentioned that I was tearing up my sewing room because I lost the fabric I bought specifically for the slip! It took me a few days, but I found it pushed behind a pile of fabric in the closet. (Sound familiar?) 

I was really excited to start this because a few weeks ago, Laura was posting photos of different ways to make the slip on her Facebook page.  I had been wanting to make a slip for a long time and on a trip to Portland, OR I stopped by one of the infamous fabric stores in the area. I found a great nude lightweight jersey knit and a black mesh with a very tight weave. Both were excellent quality, but still lightweight enough to be used as a slip. I also picked up some pretty lace trims in a few different colors. At this point I had not heard of Sew Chic Patterns, so I was buying these items in hopes of figuring it out on my own. Low and behold two weeks later, I met Laura from Sew Chic and she shared her Valentine Slip pattern with me! 

Because I had purchased the materials before the pattern, I had to work with what I had. The pattern comes with two versions: view A showcases lace at the bust and around the hemline. View B features a pieced bust and ruffled hemline. I cut out size 12 for the top and graded it to 14 for the hips. The pattern is made for a B cup. While I am not a B cup, I cut it from a B (I'm not really sure why I did, I just did!) The pattern comes with a guide to adjust the cup size. (When I made the black slip, I adjusted the cup size and it fit even better than the nude slip!) 

I decided to make the view B because I wanted to add 1 1/2" trim around the top of the cup. I omitted the top piece from the cup and replaced it with a 1 1/2" lace trim. So I guess you're wondering how I did this? It was a little unfortunate because the trim was not as wide as the piece I omitted. It was only about a 1/2" or so off, so I wasn't too concerned. 

After constructing the cup itself, I attached the trim to the center front, making sure to line up the fabric along the design of the lace. I serged the edges of all knit pieces to give it a clean look. 

I stitched to about 1" or so before the top because I wanted to pivot the lace trim to go up the top of the cup. I couldn't figure out any other way to do it, without have an unfinished edge and I really didn't want that. I folded a dart in the trim at the center front and attached the trim to the rest of the cup. Below, you can see a finished center front cup piece. 

Here is a finished cup. I serged the cup seam also, although I wasn't going to. I hate when seams hit right at the bust and show through other pieces of clothing. If I wanted to change this in future slips, I think I would try to draft the cup in one piece. One quick note: When you add the lace to the second cup, be sure the lace design matches up to the other cup. Everything should be symmetrical!

After both cups are constructed, I stitched them together at center front. I didn't alter anything else in the pattern, so scroll down to check out the finished product!

I used pre-made lingerie straps that we had at Fabric Mart a few years ago. (Does anyone remember the strap bundles we were selling!?) Of course I didn't have very many basic colors in the collection I had, but I managed to find two cream straps. One strap is a slightly different color than the other, but who's going to see that? I used a zig-zag stitch to attach the straps to the front and back of the slip. 

I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I even had a chance to wear it earlier this week and it was perfect! The bust seams did not show through my dress either. 

When finishing the seam across the back, I used a wide zig-zag stitch similar to what you see on RTW bras.

I did not attach lace the hemline because I did not have enough to go around it. (Oops!) After wearing it this week, I realized that it was a little longer than I liked. It was almost as long as the dress I wore, which fell right around my knee. I think I may go back and shorten it an inch or two because I am afraid it would peak out of my dress.

I enjoyed making this slip so much, that I made a black version too! 

I used a black stretch mesh knit with a really tight mesh weave. It was sturdy enough to hold it's shape. I fell short again because the lace trim I purchased was 6 1/2" wide rather than the minimum requirement of 7". I also had adjusted the cup size, so the width of the lace did not exactly work out the way 7" would have. Thankfully, I was able to make it work, I just stretched the lace a little more when stitching the cup together. 

I could see this slip pattern being used for more than just a slip. Lengthen the hemline to create a hip hugging gown. Shorten the hemline to make a camisole. Even try different fabrics to make whatever your heart desires! I have not done a lot of work with trimming before so it was a lot of fun trying new products. I have to say, I am a lace trim addict now. I want to put it on everything! Have fun making this slip, the possibilities are endless!

If you would like to purchase your own  Valentine Slip pattern, click HERE.

~ Julie